Women Show More Empathy Than Men – Does that make you yawn?
Well, if you’re a woman, it probably does, actually. Not because you’re bored with the debate about differences twixt man and woman (you’re not, are you?), but because the research says so.
It’s been well known for some time that yawning is contagious. Someone next to you yawns and within a minute you’ll probably find yourself yawning too.
You’re more likely to catch a yawn from someone you know well, or from a relative rather than a stranger because of the empathy existing between you. Scientists have now done some research that seems to suggest that women are more likely to have this response than men.
Researchers quietly observed and analysed over 4,000 yawns on planes, trains, in restaurants, and in offices. They noted when someone yawned, and then if a nearby acquaintance or friend did the same within a 3-minute period. Men and women spontaneously yawned with about the same frequency.
But when someone else yawned first, women were more likely than men to follow suit. Women picked up yawns about 55% of the time, whereas men only did so 40% of the time. Women tend to score higher than men on tests of empathy, and traditional female social roles (like child-rearing) place a higher emphasis on those traits. The researchers suggest that might make women more susceptible to catching a yawn.
Apparently psychopaths don’t catch yawns because they are incapable of feeling empathy…
Who knew? The full report can be found at Royal Society for Open Science.